Mc Aleer calls for review of deprivation measures
West Tyrone MLA Declan McAleer has said that the current methodology used to measure deprivation in rural areas must be reviewed.
Mr. McAleer was speaking after co-hosting a seminar entitled ‘Poverty amongst Plenty’ organised by RCN and the Carnegie Trust.
“There is a very strong view among rural stakeholders that the current methodology (NIMDM) used to assess deprivation underestimates the extent of deprivation in rural areas.
“Evidence suggests that there is a higher cost of living in the countryside yet the NI Multi Deprivation Measures (NIMDM) only looks at income level without considering levels of expenditure.
“It is also essential to own at least one car to access basic services such as childcare and shops as there is a lack of public transport which is a further drain on resources.
“A study by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation ‘Minimum Incomes Project’ in 2010 concluded that rural dwellers need to spend 10-20% more on everyday requirements than their urban counterparts.
“No rural areas feature in the top 10% or 20% of the most deprived areas across the North as ‘Proximity to Services’ is only weighted at 10% of the overall MDM score, leading to implications for funding and anti poverty programmes. The closest rural area is Castlederg, which is ranked at 97th.
“The presentations given by Dr Marshall and Dr Haase were extremely informative and provided much food for thought in opening this important debate. Through Assembly questions,I have previously raised this matter with the DFP Minister who replied that a review of the NIMDM is expected to start in 2014/15.
“Whilst agreement still has to be reached on a preferred methodology, there is widespread consensus among rural interest groups that the current system is not accurately measuring poverty and deprivation in rural areas and this must be factored into any future review."